A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Modern Family star finds a backyard chamber
ALSO: The Golden Globes ratings disaster. AND: The game based on the Street Fighter movie which was based on a game's sequel.
Sissy Spacek & Ed O’Neill return to TV
I’ve always liked seeing Ed O’Neill turn up on TV in dramatic roles and it’s great news to hear he’ll be appearing alongside Sissy Spacek in an interesting-sounding series for Amazon. The two will star in the new Amazon Prime Video show Lightyears about a couple who years ago discovered a chamber in their backyard that transports them to a deserted planet. Their lives are upended, however, with the arrival of a young man who changes their relationship with the chamber.
It sounds like high-concept drama from a really grounded perspective - which I love. I’m in.
During the Golden Globes broadcast in the US yesterday, an unusually confronting ad aired for the company Frida. Promoting Frida’s line of nursing pillows, massagers, gummies, and other products, the TV commercial was a realistic look at breastfeeding.
Because of the graphic nature of the commercial, Frida worked with the network to provide a 30 second spot that edited and blurred any sight of nipple. Oh my stars… I cannot believe I even typed the word.
What’s particularly interesting about this is that expecting mothers are such an exceptionally high-value target for advertisers, yet so much of the messaging around pregnancy and childbirth is so far removed from the actual experience. Back in 2014, it was estimated that an average pregnant woman’s marketing data is worth $1.50, while a regular person’s is worth 10 cents.
Many of the ads encountered by first-time parents favor modesty over authenticity. Instagram ads tend to focus more on warm images of cooing babies cuddled by radiant, fully covered mothers and less on the agony of aggressive feedings and the mess of midnight cleanups.
The disconnect can leave first-time parents underprepared during a transitional period often described as the fourth trimester. And during the pandemic, the difficulties have been intensified for the families of the more than 116 million babies expected to have been born since March.
Looks like I wasn’t alone in not watching the Golden Globes this year. Early figures suggest 5.4 million people tuned in. This is down 60% from last year’s 18.3 million people. These numbers will likely adjust up a bit. But don’t pay too much attention to those who will say that the Golden Globes viewership was so low because of the COVID-impacted production. September’s COVID Emmy Awards were only down 12% on the year before.
Superstore has wrapped production ahead of its March 25 finale. Read: TV Line
Pluto TV is launching yet another four channels in the US: Paramount+ Picks (which will offer samples of marquee titles from the ViacomCBS-owned streaming service like The Stand and Star Trek: Discovery), Nashville - a 24/7 channel screening nothing but the show Nashville on loop, MLB playing classic baseball games and clips, and Ryan and Friends which is a channel focused on the child YouTube star. Read: The Streamable
The cast for RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under will be revealed at this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Source: Stan
Season 2 of Amazon Prime Video’s The Wilds is moving production from New Zealand to Queensland in Australia. Read: Variety
Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game: The Oral History
Back in the mid 90s there was a terrible movie based on the hit video game Street Fighter 2. The movie, called Street Fighter, starred Jean Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue and is, today, best forgotten. But, as is the way with capitalism, the movie birthed merchandise and an inevitable tie-in video game. Gamers know that adaptations of movies are almost always terrible - but what about a game that adapts a movie that adapted the sequel to a game?
Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game - it was even worse than the movie.
And now there’s an oral history about this turkey of a game that was notable for using digitized footage of the actors from the turkey of a film:
Tsujimoto came out and talked about the millions of dollars that Street Fighter had made, and, Now we're making this movie and this movie is going to make millions of dollars and now we're going to make a game based off the movie and that's going to make millions of dollars. And all the actors were looking at their agents saying, "Hey, wait a minute. It's in our contract, but we should probably be making more money because it's not just the movie, but it's a game as well, right?" So they were all holding out, just renegotiating. Which turned our — it was supposed to be an 11-day shoot, into almost a month that we were there, in Australia.